Network Monitoring Best Practices

Network security has never been more important. But you’re not going to succeed here unless you spend some time thinking about network monitoring. Here are some network monitoring best practices to set your organization on the right path.

Understand Your Network Monitoring Needs

No two enterprises are exactly the same. Thus, their networks and network monitoring configurations won’t be the same either. Before any attempts at creating a network monitoring protocol, you need to know organizational requirements.

Larger, more complex enterprises spanning various physical locations will have a tougher time securing their networks than those with fewer potential entry points. The tools and investment required for your network security are going to come down to a few things:

  • Size of organization
  • Location of network access points
  • Need for scalability
  • Industry requirements, such as HIPAA compliance

It’s important to factor all of these elements into the decision-making process when it comes to choosing network monitoring tools.

Network Monitoring Best Practices

Establish a Baseline

You won’t know something is wrong unless you know what it looks like when things are right. This is the idea behind establishing a baseline before implementing a new network-monitoring framework.

It’s wise to take at least a few weeks of observation and evaluation to determine the baseline of the network. You don’t want to baseline off a time period that’s too short, as this might not give you a full enough picture.

Build an Effective Notification Framework

The ultimate purpose of network monitoring tools is to let you know what’s happening. While larger enterprises will likely have dedicated staff actively monitoring much of the time, this isn’t practical for all organizations. Furthermore, no matter the extent of your personnel, it’s just not possible to keep an eye on everything at once. ­

A network monitor needs to have notification protocols built into its functionality. Certain events and inputs will trigger alerts, which will give the IT team more time to react to issues. Further, it’s essential to have an escalation management framework in place to go along with notifications. There needs to be a chain of command establishing who gets alerted when various things happen on the network. While many people will specialize in only one aspect of network monitoring, there has to be more than one person who can execute all critical responses if the network goes down or there’s a breach.

Take Reporting Seriously

Reporting does more than provide you a record of network performance; it helps you identify issues and optimize inefficiencies. Many people take networks for granted. But these are some of the essential systems in enterprises today. Much like the blood flowing through our own veins, networks are the circulatory systems of the modern corporation.

But there’s so such thing as a perfect network. You can always strive to improve both safety and performance. Of course, there’s a major financial incentive to doing this. Making networks work better can save your business money by lowering costs.

This doesn’t compare, however, to the damage that can be caused by nefarious parties exploiting network vulnerabilities. A study by IBM found the average cost of a data breach is about $3.86 million. The cost goes up even more for certain industries, such as healthcare, which has an average cost of over $7 million. Protecting against this will save you money and preserve the good image of your company.

Plan for the Future

Not that long ago, things like network monitoring were nothing but a sci-fi dream. Today, it’s a commonplace term in the business world. Things are always changing. And this is only becoming ever more true as technology makes progress even faster. Your business needs to look to the future when implementing network-monitoring tools.

This can mean a few things. For starters, you want to think about scalability and compatibility. If your organization is growing, you’re likely going to be dealing with an ever-evolving network. Choosing tools that facilitate expansion will allow for seamless and secure network expansion.

There’s a lot to know when it comes to network monitoring. Being bombarded by information can be overwhelming, but it’s important to understand some of the best practices to create effective networks.

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